WHO declares H1N1 influenza pandemic

Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization announced today that the influenza pandemic alert has been raised from from phase 5 to phase 6, meaning that “the world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic.”

In a measured statement, Chan said the H1N1 virus “is spreading under a close and careful watch.” Chan goes over what is known about this virus and what is not known – how it will behave under conditions typically found in the developing world.

The statement warns that countries should be prepared to see more cases and, in countries where outbreaks appear to have peaked, officials should expect a second wave of infection.

A joint statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Homeland Security Janet Napolitano says the WHO’s decision was expected and that it doesn’t change what public health officials are doing in the United States.

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